All of us have times in our lives when we have to make important decisions. It may be which career path to follow, where to work, who to marry, or where to live. Sometimes we find that even seemingly minor choices can make a big impact on our futures.
Think about it, how do you make your mind up as to what to do?
Maybe you’re a pros and cons sort of person. You make a vertical line down the center of a blank piece of paper. At the top, you write the words “pros” and “cons”. Then you try to think in depth about the situation and list the good and bad points in the corresponding columns. Whichever side has the greatest number of points ‘wins’ your ultimate vote.
You might be a roll-of-a-dice decider. Whether it’s a short stick, rock/paper/scissors, or drawing from a hat, you let a neutral object decide your destiny.
But maybe you don’t feel right depending on an inanimate to choose for you. You feel better about a polling system. You lay out your dilemma to as many people as will listen. After they hear the choices, they ‘vote’ on what you should do. Keeping a careful tally, you submit to the overwhelming majority.
I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I have made decisions using all the above methods (and I’m not just talking about whether we have peas or corn with our dinner). As a Christian, I need to remember that I haven’t just been dropped on this planet with no guidance. I have a Heavenly Father who is personally interested in me and my future. He knows what is best for me, even when my mind, my dice, and my friends don’t have a clue. If I’m looking to anything or anyone else for guidance, the question is why? Could it be that I don’t think God really cares about my trivial life? Am I impatient and want to know now, not waiting for Him to answer? Is there maybe a chance that I will hear His answer, but won’t like it, so I’d rather not ask God at all?
There is an interesting story in 1 Kings 13. Unlike the stories of Noah and Jonah, it isn’t likely to make the children’s Bible storybooks, flannel graph Sunday School lessons, or probably most sermons from the pulpit. However, it’s a story with grave lessons about a man who had a decision to make and chose the wrong method to do it.
King Jeroboam was a wicked king. He was one of the biggest instigators of idol worship in Israel. God addressed this false worship by sending a prophet from Judah to confront the king and those who had accepted this form of false worship. You can read the details in 1 Kings 13.
After performing a couple of miracles to demonstrate his points, it was evident that God’s power was behind this prophet. Either because he felt powerless to control him or maybe because he had an ulterior motive, King Jeroboam invited the prophet to come back with him, even promising him a reward. The prophet refused the king (something most people wouldn’t dare to do), saying that God had directed him to not eat, drink, or leave in the same direction he’d arrived. I always feel myself breath a sigh of relief that he wasn’t swayed by riches or prestige, like others in the Bible (think Balaam and Gahazi). But my relief is short-lived.
The prophet, having accomplished his mission, headed home. Along the way, he took a break under a tree. At this point, an older prophet from the area approached him. The older man offered to lead the younger to his house so that they could enjoy a meal together. The younger prophet again related the restrictions that the Lord had placed on him. Then the older man revealed that he also is a prophet and said he was approached by an angel and told that it was okay for the other man to eat and drink with him. The reader then notes that the Bible records “But he lied unto him”. The end result of his disobedience was that the Lord took his life through an encounter with a lion.
This Bible story demonstrates the seriousness of relying on God for our answers (through His Word and prayer). Once we know God’s will, we must be careful to not let anyone or anything sway us from following His guidance. The young prophet in our story was not determined to follow God at all cost. Why did he go against what God said? There were possibly multiple factors. First, he had been resolved enough to defy the king. There could have been a little pride in resisting sin, even in the face of the king. Then, he may have been feeling the effects of hunger and thirst. Just because you are doing the right thing doesn’t mean that you will have a smooth path ahead of you. When the other prophet announced his profession, especially being older, it seems as if the younger prophet questioned his own sure calling. Maybe he’d just misunderstood God. Maybe God changed His mind. Instead of depending on what God had said, or even going to God for answers, this younger man disobeyed His directive. It cost him his life.
This story always makes me reflect on my own tendencies. Do I go to God for direction in the first place? When I do and feel I have clear direction, do I sway when challenged by my own weaknesses or by advice from others, including other Christians? Who or what trumps God’s Word in my life?
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him Who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel….But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed….For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6,8,10